Is AA simply faith healing with a higher power?
Is AA simply faith healing with a higher power? Would you treat Cancer with a “higher power”.
The 12 steps of AA do not always “work if you work it”, although that is what is often claimed by faithful members of the AA “congregation” I do not believe that the steps do anything other than turn alcoholism into a moral issue. This makes sense when you realise that the program of “alcoholics anonymous” was formed in the 1930’s straight after prohibition. It took many of its views from the Christian Oxford group, which Bill Wilson had joined, including the steps. I view the steps as “faith Healing”.
If you wish to learn more about the formation and effectiveness of AA I would recommend this new book by Lance Dodes, “The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry”. I have reviewed it myself here http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/sober-truth-book/ It is certainly an eye opener!
I did try to make AA work for me but as time went on I just could not see much use in the program. I was asked to sponsor a new member and as I worked through the steps with him, I realised that I simply had no faith in them at all. I left AA and moved on after some really good counselling. I felt AA was more about getting people to pray than helping them recover, and that so many members were so stuck in their ways, that it was actually impeding many new member’s progress, with its out of date ideas and traditions.
I have no doubt that having some fellowship and getting involved with something will have some value for many, but I do not view the 12 steps as a rational solution. Despite this, many in AA are fanatical about the steps and their whole life revolves around them. Like many who have experienced a religious conversion, they become evangelical and irrational about the method they have chosen and will preach it to anyone. They feel their solution will work for anyone.
Many call alcoholism a disease, especially in America, where the 12 step world of rehabs has a powerful lobby. They then try to push the 12 steps as the only viable solution for this disease, which they claim is cunning, powerful and baffling. They use anecdotes to push the effectiveness of their method, rather than any evidence, which they will dispute if confronted by any argument against them. This has resulted in a huge industry being based on the steps, which are faith healing! Even AA could be viewed as a business selling the “Big Book” which is pushed on every new member and often discarded shortly afterwards.
The approach in America is rather different for real diseases such as cancer, where faith healing is not considered to be the best practice in the modern world. There are those who push faith-based techniques, and claim evidence that they work in a similar way to AA members do with their steps. These positive outcomes are often the result of spontaneous remission, and is not evidence of the work of a “higher power” or the “laying of hands”.
Anybody claiming to cure cancer with a higher power will be laughed at in most places! Yet this is not the case with alcoholism which is claimed to be a spiritual disease. Below is a section from the website www,cancer.org on faith healing. Here is a link to the whole piece http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/mindbodyandspirit/faith-healing
If you change the word cancer for the word alcoholism, which many 12 step believers claim to be a disease, you actually get a critical view of a method of healing which is dependant on the cooperation of a higher power.
This is the original piece about cancer which is not a made up disease!
Other common name(s): spiritual healing, laying on of hands
Scientific/medical name(s): none
Faith healing is founded on the belief that certain people or places have the ability to cure and heal—that someone or something can eliminate disease or heal injuries through a close connection to a higher power. Faith healing can involve prayer, a visit to a religious shrine, or simply a strong belief in a supreme being.
Available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can cure cancer or any other disease. Some scientists suggest that the number of people who attribute their cure to faith healing is lower than the number predicted by calculations based on the historical percentage of spontaneous remissions seen among people with cancer. However, faith healing may promote peace of mind, reduce stress, relieve pain and anxiety, and strengthen the will to live.
How is it promoted for use?
According to proponents, there is little that faith healing cannot do. Many religious sects claim faith can cure blindness, deafness, cancer, AIDS, developmental disorders, anemia, arthritis, corns, defective speech, multiple sclerosis, skin rashes, total body paralysis, and various injuries. Certain religious groups, for instance, believe that illness is an illusion that can be healed through prayer, either for oneself or by trained practitioners.
What does it involve?
Faith healing can be practiced near the patient or at a distance from the patient. When practiced from afar, it can involve a single faith healer or a group of people praying for the patient. When near to the patient, as in revivalist tent meetings, the healer often touches, or “lays hands on,” the patient while calling on a supreme being. Faith healing can also involve a pilgrimage to a religious shrine, such as the French shrine at Lourdes, in search of a miracle. Some groups train and use their own practitioners to heal sick persons through prayer.
What is the history behind it?
Faith healing is believed to have begun even before the earliest recorded history. In the Bible, both God and holy people are said to have the power to heal. In Medieval times, the Divine Right of Kings was thought to give royalty the ability to heal through touch. Through the years, up to and including the twentieth century, there have been numerous reports of saints performing miracle cures. Today, a number of religious groups practice some form of faith healing.
What is the evidence?
Although it is known that a small percentage of people with cancer experience remissions of their disease that cannot be explained, available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments. When a person believes strongly that a healer can create a cure, a “placebo effect” can occur. The placebo effect can make the person feel better, but it has not been found to induce remission or improve chance of survival from cancer. The patient usually credits the improvement in how he or she feels to the healer, even though the perceived improvement occurs because of the patient’s belief in the treatment. Taking part in faith healing can evoke the power of suggestion and affirm one’s faith in a higher power, which may help promote peace of mind. This may help some people cope more effectively with their illness.
One review published in 1998 looked at 172 cases of deaths among children treated by faith healing instead of conventional methods. These researchers estimated that if conventional treatment had been given, the survival rate for most of these children would have been more than 90 percent, with the remainder of the children also having a good chance of survival. A more recent study found that more than 200 children had died of treatable illnesses in the United States over the past thirty years because their parents relied on spiritual healing rather than conventional medical treatment.
Although there are few studies in adults, one study conducted in 1989 suggested that adult Christian Scientists, who generally use prayer rather than medical care, have a higher death rate than other people of the same age.
Are there any possible problems or complications?
People who seek help through faith healing and are not cured may have feelings of hopelessness, failure, guilt, worthlessness, and depression. In some groups, the person may be told that his or her faith was not strong enough. The healer and others may hold the person responsible for the failure of their healing. This can alienate and discourage the person who is still sick.
Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences. Death, disability, and other unwanted outcomes have occurred when faith healing was elected instead of medical care for serious injuries or illnesses.
While competent adults may choose faith healing over medical care, communities often become concerned when parents make such choices for their children. This concern has sparked organizations to work toward creating laws to protect children from inappropriate treatment by faith healers.
Finally, a few “faith healers” have been caught using fraud as a way to get others to believe in their methods. These people often solicited large donations or charged money for their healing sessions.
I find the last section “Are there any possible problems or complications?” accurately describes many of the problems that people face in AA. Anyone who does not succeed there, is seen to be not following the program perfectly and are blamed for their failure. This line “feelings of hopelessness, failure, guilt, worthlessness, and depression” also really does happen rather a lot to those who follow the Bill Wilson solution.
I have no objection to people using the church or religion as a way of finding some comfort or fellowship, especially in difficult times. I do object when it is dressed up as something else, and pushed on people as some kind of worthwhile solution. I am glad that many are now speaking out and being critical of the 12 step world and that hopefully more effective solutions that will help a greater number of people asking for help can become dominant.
I do not think that AA could have grown anywhere other than America after prohibition and been taken seriously! This has resulted in a chaotic treatment system for many suffering from addiction and alcoholism, that is of no use to them.